The Netflix horror film Bulbbul comes out as a reality check, exposing the horrific culture practiced by society that has drowned its other half into the ocean of suffering, blood and misery. Like a nightingale known for her songs which she usually sings at night, “Bulbbul” too through her strength and actions made a lot of thoughts scream inside my heart and mind. As the film rolls on, audience would witness the gothic patriarchal norms abandoning a woman’s sentiments and a beautiful yet haunting fairy-tale like no other. She was an innocent little girl when she got married to Indranil, the ‘Thakur.’ Ruining her childhood by taking her away from her ‘Pishi Maa’ was just the start of the sins the society altogether did upon her.
Scene 1 “Vash Me Karne Ke Liye Hai yeh bichiya.” Bulbbul, a little girl of 6 or 7 years is being married to the Thakur, a man many years her senior. She asks her Pishi Ma, “Why do I wear this bichiya?” As for a child of such tender age, understanding the relevance and significance of marriage and its laws, abided by the society, is beyond her imagination. Bulbbul is still puzzled about the response that her aunt gave her.
“This is to control you.” Bulbbul does not comprehend what “control” really means. So, basically, the essence of bichiya, worn by women is more than that of a mere ornament. It’s a trap, to control the girl, chop off her wings and keep her on the ground. In the eyes of society, the budding relationship between Bulbbul and her brother-in-law, Satya, who is her age, is a questionable act and, thus, a sinful one. We can easily comprehend this fact when Binodini asks Bulbbul to take some Bichiya out of all the ornaments, as “Bulbbul’s bichiya has become quite loose”.
Scene 2 “Chup Rehna!” Binodini cleans and heals Bulbbul in the wake of the terrible night, washes her blood stains and mutters “chup rehna” in the stream of consciousness. She asks, “You’re married to the royal family, why are you crying like this?” He’s mad, but you’re going to get jewels, he’s nuts, but you’re going to get silk, so keep quiet.” It seems like Binodini, too, was wronged by her own people at some point in time. She unknowingly exposes in her monologue the trauma she must have undergone and henceforth asked to keep mum, as she was born into a royal family through her good fortune, and should be obligated. The fact that a girl’s marriage determines her destiny exposes the 19th century patriarchal mentality and the horrors that many women have had to go through in their lives. And many women are being questioned and coerced to stay silent until today.
Somewhere, we can compare Tagore’s fictional characters to the characters in the film. In the movie, Binodini, who can be compared to Chokher Bali’s Binodini, is jealous of Bulbbul, as she’s older than her, she’s still the choti bahu, and somewhere she’s longing for the love she never got because her husband’s crazy. Bulbbul at some points represents Tagore’s Charulata, as she falls for her brother-in-law, but cannot accept it as the guilt of disloyalty surrounds her. This is how patriarchy has survived until now. We make each other learn how to compromise with the situation, and keep on suffering because this is how a woman is supposed to live, live in limits, live in control. But bulbul chose to fly and not to stay caged. She flew like an independent, strong bird only to stop the oppression against women happening around her.
Scene 3 “Tum Saare Ek Jaise Ho.” Bulbbul grew up to realize her bond with Satya, and he’s the only one who made her not feel alone in the ‘haveli.’ But she was considered a sinner when her concern and feelings for Satya were reflected. He was sent to Kolkata for further studies but the main reason was to keep them separated from each other. 7 years later they united and by seeing Bulbbul talking to Doctor Sudip made him jealous and he started blaming Bulbbul as a characterless woman. Won’t it would have been better if each woman would have come out of the cage to take a flight like her? Or wouldn’t it be best if none of us were to be caged? She said to Satya, ‘Tum Saare Ek Jaise Ho’, only to make us comprehend that patriarchy is being carried by everyone, no matter how educated one is, and still ‘submissive, weak, caged’ is how a woman is supposed to stay, in the eyes of society. However, she never craved any support from Satya; she never owed any justification to his doubts regarding your friendship with the doctor as you knew you don’t require it. She was always enough for herself in real sense.
But it is the Chudail or Witch’s symbolic transformation into a Devi that makes it worth watching this film. A woman, when wronged has to stand up and fight the evil, like the Goddess Kali does, in order to teach the society that women have the right to life and liberty and no person other than the woman herself is allowed to make decisions for her. This is a powerful and empowering tale about an injured woman who is punishing her oppressors. I hope that the society will not require any other example to comprehend that all women are bulbul and they deserve to fly.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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